Busy doesn’t even begin to describe our recent weeks! About a month ago, I had to take a break from the blog just to completely focus on relocating our family from Southern California to New England. Life has been a bit like living in a whirlwind—something of a Providential chaos… if that’s not an oxymoron. I know that God is a God of order, but it seems that recently He’s ordered a full dose of chaos for the Schmidt family. At present, we are living in three separate locations, waiting for a moving truck to arrive so we can unpack and begin to get settled.
Yet in the midst of the pandemonium, we have seen God’s providence and power over and over again. He has proven Himself—directing and ordering our steps, and going before us to make the “crooked places straight.” While feeling a bit flummoxed, we have also felt secure in God’s will and trusting Him every step of the way. The story is too long and the answers to prayer too many to share in a short blog post, but in an effort to keep friends and family updated, and to bring glory to God for His goodness, here are 10 outstanding ways God has proven Himself real in our lives recently.
1. His peace in clearly calling us to a new level of surrender. Every step of this journey has been filled with human reason to doubt, pause, question, and even fear. And just beyond those fears—just after obedience—every time, He has confirmed His guiding hand in our lives. Probably 1,000 times along this transition, I’ve had an alarming “What have I done!?!” sort of thought. It almost breaks me into a cold sweat. But every time, in some clear and undeniable way, God interjects a confirmation into those moments. Sometimes He uses His Word, at other times a circumstance or a word of encouragement from the right person at just the right time. He has never failed to assure us that we are obeying Him! Many of you have reached out at the right moment and been the vessel that God used! Thank you!
2. His provision in making a way through seemingly impossible needs. The list is way too long! Everything I viewed as an impassible mountain, God reduced to a straight and clear path in His time. In every obstacle, He has provided a way through. With every need that arose, we acknowledged Him, and He directed our paths and met our needs. Truly we have experienced the reality of the statement, “With God’s calling comes God’s enabling.”
3. His strength as we said goodbye to dear friends. Just over a week ago, we spent several hours saying good bye to our church family of twenty-two years. The next day, we walked through the offices of beloved friends and co-laborers and brushed back tears of gratitude as we said “good-bye”… no, not “good-bye”… “See ya later…” But even “See ya later” is hard when you love people! Somehow, God gave strength in those hard moments.
4. His presence and guidance in response to prayer. Simple illustration—we’ve been shopping for appliances—an exercise worse than any dental procedure I’ve ever endured. We’ve been to all the major stores. We’ve talked to dozens of sales people. We’ve researched hundreds of options, and searched for every possible sale and coupon. But in all of it, God just kept saying, “No, not yet.” I was waiting on His solution. At every difficult question in recent weeks, our continual prayer has been: “Lord, you did this to us… so show us your solution to this problem…” He has answered every time. And today, He did that again. Suffice to say, He led us to an individual through whom we are able to purchase appliances that are twice as good for half the price of everything else we shopped. This is just one example (of many) where God has responded to a heart-cry for help!
5. His goodness in replanting us in a new, loving church family. On Friday evening, August 17th, we finally pulled into the driveway of Emmanuel Baptist Church at about 9pm. We were exhausted and depleted after nearly five full days of driving. Our hearts were abundantly blessed to be welcomed by a group of church family members who were already on campus working on our home. Their smiling faces and welcoming celebration ministered to our hearts in an unforgettable way. (See photo above) Our first Sunday at Emmanuel was most blessed as our new church family welcomed us with smiles, words of encouragement, and open hearts. Something special is unfolding at EBC, and we are simply grateful that God chose us to be a part of it!
6. His protection through nearly 6,000 miles of travel. Two vehicles traversing 2,800+ miles of road and weather at all hours of the night without one single hitch—what an awesome blessing. Many people have prayed us through this transition, and God has been good to answer prayer. We enjoyed the trip, made a lot of good memories, and cherished every encouraging word, prayer, tweet, post, email, and message from every friend a long the way! Thank you for cheering us on in faith and love!
7. His power energizing and stirring our church family. The spirit of Emmanuel Baptist Church is alive with the love and presence of Jesus Christ. God gave us a great attendance all day Sunday. He led several families to visit for the first time. He has brought dozens of new students to Emmanuel Christian Academy. He has given us a great staff team who are laboring diligently. And the church family has an eager and responsive heart towards God’s work in their hearts. Every day our church members are sharing stories of how God is giving them opportunities to witness and invite others to EBC, and how lost friends are warmly responding toward the gospel. In every way, I see God working in incredible ways. What I’m seeing is an organic, unmanufactured, undeniable moving of God—a moving that has zero to do with me or “us” and 100% to do with God alone.
8. His direction in leading us to sensitive hearts. I’m amazed at two things. First, I’m amazed at the kindness and tenderness of unsaved hearts in New England. After inviting dozens and dozens of people to our church, I have YET to meet a rude, cold, or closed person. (I’m sure I will… I’m not naive.) Secondly, I’m amazed at the unbelief of Christian’s regarding New England. The whole experience reminds me of Jesus’ interaction with the Centurion at whose faith He “marveled.” Lots of well-meaning Christians (most of whom I don’t know) have taken it upon themselves to “warn” me of the culture shock and cold hearts I will find in New England. Please, STOP. I don’t want to be rude or harsh… but you’re just wrong. The problem is in our heads first and foremost. New England’s greatest problem is unbelieving Christians. (More on that later.) After living in California for 22 years, I find unsaved New Englanders to be far more receptive that their Californian counter-parts. Someone messaged me today with this statement: “Smile at the world, and the world will smile back.”
9. His grace in helping our children through a difficult transition. Sure, we’ve had lots of tough moments. We’ve cried a few buckets of tears. We’ve felt terribly displaced this week—especially while waiting for a moving truck. But even in the hardest moments, God has given grace and comfort. He has picked us up, held us together, and strengthen us in ways that only He can.
10. His master plan unfolding in marvelous and miraculous ways. I am so thankful to belong to a God who truly finds pleasure in delighting His children! This whole process has been a massive, mid-life reminder that God’s will is far better and more delightful than you could possibly imagine. He truly is a God that does exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think!
So, in summary—God is so very, very good. And we are so massively undeserving. We are grateful to finally be in Newington, though as of this writing, none of our stuff is here yet! Thank you to every friend and co-laborer who prayed, encouraged, messaged, or reached out to us on this journey. Every kind word has been used of God to challenge us and encourage us to press on!
Please pray that God will work mightily in EBC and in New England! The need is great, but so is God! And the great news is, hearts are soft! The fields are white already unto harvest!